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Hockey club raises money for cancer research

  • A photo of Anna Walz and her family.
  • GVSU hockey took on Hope College January 27 at Georgetown Ice Center.
  • Anna Walz, associate professor of marketing
  • A photo of the puck drop.
  • A photo of students on the ice.

Posted on February 13, 2018

Anna Walz isn't much of a hockey fan. That changed when the associate professor of marketing was invited to kick off a special game January 27 when the university's club hockey team took on Hope College. 

The Grand Valley Division III hockey club asked Walz, who took last semester off to fight breast cancer, to drop the puck at its annual benefit game "Hockey Fights Cancer." The team partnered with Van Andel Institute's Purple Community to raise funds for cancer research. Walz attended the game at Georgetown Arena with her husband and their five children. 

Walz is familiar with VAI, as she gave permission to VAI to use her tumor for research.

"I donated my tumor; the hockey team donated their time and effort, and the Grand Valley community donated funds. It's a beautiful reflection of true community," she said. "I've always known that Grand Valley had my back, but this was a reminder from the student side. It was a huge encouragement to step on the ice and see a new side of our community."

The team raised more than $5,000, far exceeding its goal of $3,500. The game was organized by student leaders, including team captain Alex Bjork, a senior majoring in marketing. 

"There's life on the ice and life off the ice," Bjork said. "I believe team members realize that reaching out and working for a cause helps both."

While Hockey Fights Cancer is the team's biggest event, it's not the only time the team has made its sport benefit others. This year, the team hosted games dedicated to the American Brain Cancer Association, West Michigan Special Hockey Association and a Salute to Troops event, where they invited members of the GVSU ROTC and National Guard for the national anthem.

Bjork will graduate this spring and said the tradition of giving back will continue. 

"The Laker Effect is making the most of your opportunity here and making the biggest impact that you can," he said. "Off the ice we have enough teammates who are willing to continue to put in the work and make these events still happen."

- written by Kathleen Ryan, student writer